What to do If Special Characters are Not Working on the Keyboard


Special characters on a keyboard, like the @, #, $, etc., are rarely used, yet they are more useful than you think. These characters are the essence of typing, considering they are used in crucial places like in an email, while writing an invoice, on social media posts, and whatnot. Sometimes, when you want to type faster, you skip pressing the shift key and type the numerals instead of the special characters. And that is fine, as you can easily use the backspace key and re-type. However, what would you do if the special characters were unavailable? 

There are several scenarios where users have explained how they could not use the special characters despite having no hardware issues with the keyboard. Needless to say, the issue is real and requires ‘special’ attention. 

If you, too, have encountered a similar situation, do not worry- we have just the fixes to help you out! Without further ado, let’s take a look at what you can do if the special characters are not working on the keyboard. 

What Causes the Special Characters Not Working Error on Windows?

Usually, these characters are placed with another character on the keyboard (numerals or another special character). This means you must use the Shift key to invoke a special character. For instance, if you want to use @ in your email address, press the Shift+2 keys on your keyboard.

However, sometimes, it is not just the shift key. Sometimes, there are dedicated mode keys, such as your Num lock, that change the result of pressing a key. The special characters not working on Windows error usually appears due to the following errors – 

  1. Num Lock Not Enabled/Disabled
  2. Changed Keyboard Language/Layout
  3. Outdated Keyboard Drivers
  4. Common Issues on Windows 

If it is just a one-time thing that you cannot type special characters on your keyboard, a quick restart can be a great way to handle the situation. This way, you are more likely to get rid of the glitch and move on with your typing. 

However, if the restart fails, you might have to start with the fixes. The next section provides them. 

How to Fix Special Characters (@, #, $,%,*,/) Not Working?

Before we begin with the detailed fixes, here are some things that you should try out – 

  1. Check if the Num Lock is ON or OFF. If the key has an LED indicator, you can easily identify it. Simply press it once, try the num pad, and do the same again until the num pad responds.
  2. Try using the Right-Shift key instead of the left. Sometimes, the keys on a keyboard stop responding like usual due to overuse. Try pressing the alternate Shift key to check if that is the case.
  3. If you are having trouble pressing a particular special character, try using other characters so that you know if the issue is with the key or the entire keyboard. This also helps identify hardware errors. 

After trying all these measures, if you still can’t resolve the special character not working error, proceed to the fixes below. 

Fix 1 – Check the Language & Layout of the Keyboard

If, by chance, you have changed the language your keyboard uses or the layout from QWERTY to ABCDE, then chances are that your special character placements will also be changed. Hence, when you try to insert one, either it does not work or something else appears on your screen. To ensure that is not the case, check out the following steps – 

For Win 11 Users – 

Step 1 – Press Win+I to open System Settings.open system setting

Step 2 – Click on Time and Language in the Left Pane.

Language and Region
Step 3 – Select Language and Region to find more options.

Preferred Languages
Step 4 – Move the more preferred language upwards from the list of Preferred Languages.
Step 5 – After selecting the language, click on it to find more options.

Language Options

Step 6 – In More Options, click on Language Options.

Keyboard Layout

Step 7 – Check the Language Pack availability and check the Keyboard Layout.
Step 8 – If you have made any changes in the process, restart the PC for them to take effect. 

For Win 10 Users – 

Step 1 – Press Win+I to open System Settings. 

Step 2 – From Settings, open Time and Language 

Step 3 – After that, navigate to Language from the Left pane. 

Step 4 – Check the priority list of languages that you have selected and move them accordingly in the order of your preference (most preferred stays on Top)

Step 5 – Click on the language preference to identify its typing layout via the language options. 

After ensuring that both the layout and language preferences are set, simply restart your PC.

Fix 2 – Update Keyboard Drivers

Sometimes, the keyboard language is fine, the layout is fine, and even the hardware is OK. But still, the Special Characters won’t work on Windows. This happens due to driver issues. If the supporting drivers are not working properly, many keyboard features, including special characters, may be compromised. 

Since these drivers are not a regular thing to update, they often go unnoticed. Hence, the issue becomes more problematic to resolve. We recommend you start using the automatic driver updater tool to resolve the error easily. This will help you fix such issues easily without complicating it for you. 

The best tool you can use now is the Advanced Driver Updater. It works in 3 easy steps – 

Step 1 – Download and install the application.

Step 2 – After doing so, run the app and use the Start Scan Now option to start the process.

start scan using advanced driver updater

Step 3 – After the scan identifies if your Keyboard driver needs an upgrade, click on Update All to resolve outdated driver errors on your PC.


This way, you can easily resolve the special characters not working in the keyboard issue on your PC!

Fix 3 – Replace Your Keyboard

If the above fixes do not work, you should try to replace your keyboard to check if the error persists. Sometimes, the keys are not working properly; hence, it is always better to check whether it is a hardware error. You can also try the same keyboard on a different system to check if it is a software error. 

If you feel it is a software error and you do not know what to do, you can start the onscreen keyboard and use it to insert special characters. It may not be an effective fix, but it will definitely help you get the job done temporarily.

Step 1 – Go to the Start menu and look up the On-Screen keyboard.

Search for On-Screen keyboard in Start menu

Step 2 – Use the result to open the keyboard.On-Screen keyboard

Step 3 – Navigate through the keyboard using the mouse cursor and place the special characters as required.

Other than these fixes, you always have the option to buy a new keyboard and reset your PC. Try these measures, and we are sure you will see the results. The special characters on your keyboard are crucial to your overall typing experience. Use these fixes, and you should be good to go!

Recommended : 

Fix – Keyboard Input Lag Issue on Windows 11/10

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About The Author

Dishank Sharma
Dishank Sharma

A creative tech-writer who loves to explore latest tech-trends & convey them to his readers in the simplest way possible. He loves to blend the crispness of technology with a pinch of creativity while curating best practices for the readers. In his free time, he likes to scribble poetry, listen to rap & travel.

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